Tuesday, August 04, 2020

Sociology professor calls for a ‘sense of proportion’ as he brands Covid-19 a ‘nasty infection’ that ‘simply brought deaths forward by a few weeks’

A leading sociology professor has today called for calm over Covid-19, as he branded the virus a 'nasty infection' that 'simply brought deaths forward be a few weeks'.

Robert Dingwall, professor of sociology at Nottingham Trent University, says there needs to be a 'sense of proportion' over coronavirus.

The killer respiratory virus is thought to contributed to the deaths of more than 45,000 people in the UK and 685,000 worldwide.

But Professor Dingwall says figures show around 80 per cent of victims in the UK already had life-limiting medical condition.

Writing a column in the Daily Express today, he said: 'Covid-19 has been linked to about 50,000 deaths in the first 16 weeks of the UK pandemic - but about 1,000 people normally die every week.

'In the past five weeks, fewer than usual have died. Covid-19 simply bought deaths forward by a few weeks or months.'

He added: 'Six months into this pandemic, we have learnt that it will not wipe out human life on this planet. It is a nasty infection and every death represents a person loved by someone. But it is time for a sense of proportion.

'While some people become seriously ill, and a few die, most shrug it off.'

Professor Dingwall, who previously accused the government of 'terrorising' the UK population with its coronavirus message, also took aim at government scientists in his column. 

Describing them as a 'narrow minded scientific elite', he hit out at the government's lockdown laws, saying they risked 'eradicating' the country's industry, as well as liberty and privacy.

Professor Dingwall was one of the scientists who called for the government to change its two metre-social distancing rules earlier this year in a bid to get the economy moving again.

In an interview with the Daily Telegraph in May he was also heavily critical about the government's coronavirus message.

He said: 'We have this very strong message which has effectively terrorised the population into believing that this is a disease that is going to kill you. And mostly it isn't...

'....We have completely lost sight of that in the obsession with deaths.'

It comes as it has today been reported that millions of over 50s could be given orders to stay at home as part of Boris Johnson's 'nuclear plans' to avoid another national lockdown.

The Prime Minister was forced to announce a slow down of the lockdown easing on Friday, with planned relaxations for the leisure and beauty sectors delayed after a rise in Covid-19 cases.

It comes just days after around 4.5million people in Greater Manchester, East Lancashire and West Yorkshire were hit with fresh lockdown restrictions last week.

The PM is thought to have held a 'war game' session with Chancellor Rishi Sunak on Wednesday to run through possible options for averting another nationwide lockdown that could put the brakes on a potential economic recovery.

Under the proposals, a greater number of people would be asked to take part in the shielding programme, based on their age or particular risk factors that have been identified since March, said the Telegraph.

It could even see those aged between 50 and 70 given 'personalised risk ratings', said the Times, in a move that would add to the 2.2 million who were deemed most vulnerable and asked to shield themselves from society during the spring peak.

The plans could prove controversial as the factors under which the elderly could be asked to self-isolate might be more heavily influenced by age than clinical vulnerabilities.

Also being considered under the proposals is a city-wide lockdown in London which would include restricting travel beyond the M25, as reported by The Sunday Times.

Any 'close contact' services, such as going to the hairdresser, would also be stopped if the capital sees a sudden surge in cases.

The advice for shielding was only lifted on Saturday for those in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland, and remains in place until August 16 for those shielding in Wales.



Are Lockdowns Necessary? What Data From 10 Countries Show

A new Heritage Foundation special report analyzes the COVID-19 responses of 10 countries, with varying levels of economic freedom, to better understand which policies might have been more effective than others.

Here’s what the report found.

The 10 countries we studied have taken vastly different approaches to handling COVID-19 with varying degrees of success.

The evidence suggests that full lockdowns, such as those implemented in Italy and Norway, are not as effective as the more targeted approaches taken in other countries, such as in South Korea and Iceland.

In fact, as we discuss, those two countries have fared considerably better than the United States has in handling COVID-19 without shutting down their economies.

Another key finding is that Australia and New Zealand, two neighboring countries with similar climates, have had similar outcomes regarding COVID-19, even though they took very different approaches to dealing with the virus.

In particular, New Zealand virtually locked down the entire country in the spring, while Australia took a less restrictive approach.

Yet, both countries have contained the virus at similar levels.

Specifically, Australia had 13,595 COVID-19 cases (0.0534% of its population) and 139 deaths (0.000546% of its population), while New Zealand had 1,556 cases (0.0323% of its population) and 22 deaths (0.000457% of its population). However, New Zealand’s unemployment level is forecast to increase to 9.2% by December, while Australia’s is expected to increase to 7.6% over this same time period.

From a public health perspective, strict lockdowns can cause additional problems. 

As 80% of COVID cases do not require hospitalization, when people isolate at home upon contracting COVID-19, they may infect their family members, including those who are at risk.

In fact, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Broward County, Florida, Mayor Dale Holness have both noticed this phenomenon. Cuomo was, in fact, quite surprised, noting: “If you notice, 18% of the people came from nursing homes, less than 1% came from jail or prison, 2% came from the homeless population, 2% from other congregate facilities, but 66% of the people were at home, which is shocking to us.”

Two additional countries that took very different approaches to dealing with COVID-19—and experienced very different outcomes—are South Korea and Italy.

South Korea permitted much of its economy to remain open, choosing instead to engage in aggressive testing and isolating the infected, either via hospitals or isolation centers. South Korea also engages in extensive digital contact tracing to notify people when they have come in contact with others having COVID-19.

As of July 22, South Korea (population of more than 51 million) has had 13,979 cases and 298 deaths (0.0272% and 0.000579% of its population, respectively.)

Italy, on the other hand, pursued a strict lockdown policy when the virus was spreading heavily in the spring. The country has a population of 60 million, comparable to South Korea. As of July 22, however, Italy has had 245,590 cases and 35,097 deaths (0.406% and 0.058% of its population, respectively), orders of magnitude higher than South Korea.

Maintaining a strong economy and protecting public health are not mutually exclusive. And although many states here in the U.S. have pursued strict stay-at-home orders, our country has not done well from either perspective, currently having more than 4 million cases (1.26% of the population) and 148,490 COVID-19-related deaths (0.0449% of the population).

Thus, although it is impossible to control for all of the differences between countries, these figures rank the United States—despite having instituted stay-at-home orders—behind many of the other developed nations we examined.

Moreover, as of July 27, with a first quarter gross domestic product loss of 5%, and a June unemployment rate of 11%, the U.S. should develop a better approach.

For instance, maximum effort here in the U.S. should be concentrated on protecting those at risk, as well as the livelihoods of American families. Among the many countries we examined, our study notes that there are aspects of the South Korean approach that lawmakers can learn from.

When recently asked about the status of the battle with COVID-19, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said, “We are certainly not at the end of the game, I’m not even sure we’re halfway through.”

As Heritage Foundation research has discussed, focusing on hot spots, protecting the elderly and most vulnerable, utilizing isolation centers to prevent the virus from spreading, taking advantage of contact tracing, and engaging in appropriate testing are policies lawmakers should consider in the coming months.

With these and other recommendations also suggested by The Heritage Foundation’s National Coronavirus Recovery Commission, we can be well-equipped to win the fight against this very dangerous enemy.



CDC Chief Agrees There’s ‘Perverse’ Economic ‘Incentive’ for Hospitals to Inflate Coronavirus Deaths

United States hospitals have a “perverse” monetary “incentive” to increase their count of coronavirus fatalities, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s director Robert Redfield indicated under questioning from a Republican lawmaker during a House panel hearing on Friday.

Asked to comment on what Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-MO) described as the “perverse incentive” during a hearing by the House Oversight and Reform Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, Dr. Redfield responded:

"I think you’re correct in that we’ve seen this in other disease processes too, really in the HIV epidemic, somebody may have a heart attack, but also have HIV — the hospital would prefer the [classification] for HIV because there’s greater reimbursement.

So I do think there’s some reality to that. When it comes to death reporting, though, ultimately, it’s how the physician defines it in the death certificate and … we review all of those death certificates.

So I think, probably it is less operable in the cause of death, although I won’t say there are not some cases. I do think though [that] when it comes to hospital reimbursement issues or individuals that get discharged, there could be some play in that for sure."

According to Congressman Luetkemeyer, Adm. Brett Giroir from the U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS) Department has conceded that there is an economic incentive for hospitals to inflate their coronavirus fatalities.

Giroir “acknowledged that the statistics he is getting from the states are over-inflated,” the Republican lawmakers said.

The admiral testified earlier during Friday’s hearing but was no longer present during Luetkemeyer’s questions about coronavirus deaths.

Across the United States, the seven-day average number of new infections had plateaued as of Thursday evening and even begun to come down in recent days. Meanwhile, new fatalities reported daily, and their seven-day average, continue to go up, but remain below peak levels.

There is a lag of about three weeks or more between infection and death.

As of mid-day Friday, COVID-19 (coronavirus disease) had infected nearly 4.5 million people and killed over 150,000, the Johns Hopkins University tracker revealed.




Commerce Department moves towards curtailing online giants' liability carveout — and not a moment too soon (The Federalist)

Chief of Staff Mark Meadows "not optimistic" on stimulus deal, as lawmakers debate unemployment boost (USA Today)

11,900 U.S. troops leaving Germany; 6,400 returning home (American Military News)

Beyond Russia: FBI director warns of China election interference (Axios)

FDA opens the door to rapid, at-home testing (USA Today)

Not the guinea pig: Majority of people say they won't take a vaccine within first year (New York Post)

Fed holds rates steady, says economic growth is "well below" pre-pandemic level (CNBC)

Seattle residents slam "defund the police" as "radical experiment" during city budget meeting (Fox News)

Policy: Trump administration shouldn't extend DACA amnesty (The Daily Signal)


For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated), A Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here  (Personal).  My annual picture page is hereHome page supplement


Monday, August 03, 2020

The land with no face masks: Holland's top scientists say there's no solid evidence coverings work and warn they could even damage the fight against Covid-19

As I walked around the sun-dappled streets of Amsterdam, something felt strange in this world swept by fear and pandemic. There was laughter coming from barges sliding along the famous canals, clusters of cyclists clogged the streets, shoppers dipped into chic boutiques, the barber shops seemed busy and cafes served couples chatting over coffee.

I heard many voices of tourists in bars and restaurants, while even the seedier sides of this celebrated Dutch city had people strolling through them. It took me a moment to realise what was so weird. Then it struck me. It felt like I had stepped back in time, returning to the pre-pandemic normality of a bustling city filled with human beings whose faces were not covered by cloth.

For while 120 countries in the world, including much of Europe, have ordered citizens to wear masks in public places to prevent the spread of Covid-19, the Dutch are doing things differently.

The nation's top scientists, having examined key data and research, have declared there is no firm evidence to back the use of face coverings. Indeed, they argue that wearing the wretched things may actually hamper the fight against disease.

'Face masks in public places are not necessary, based on all the current evidence,' said Coen Berends, spokesman for the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment. 'There is no benefit and there may even be negative impact.'

This is a bold but highly controversial stance – especially as fears grow of a second wave sweeping through Europe. Last week, Downing Street joined the global stampede to enforce face masks in public spaces such as shops, supermarkets and stations, following Scotland, Spain and France, along with Holland's neighbouring nations of Belgium and Germany.

'We think masks have a great deal of value,' said Boris Johnson. 'Scientific evaluation of face coverings and their importance in stopping aerosol droplets has been growing. People should wear them in shops.'

But the Dutch disagree – to the delight of all the citizens I spoke with in Amsterdam. 'I hate wearing them,' said Aicha Meziati, 29, in the hip fashion store Das Werk Haus. 'They are horrible. People look like they have nappies on their faces.'

Margriet, a 24-year-old sales assistant in a pop-up drink shop, said it was hard to read people's facial expressions when they wore masks. 'You make contact with people better without them and it is easier to talk to them in the store.'

Holland's position is based on assessments by the Outbreak Management Team, a group of experts advising the government. It first ruled against masks in May and has re-evaluated the evidence several times, including again last week.

It believes they detract from a clear three-pronged message that has kept deaths from coronavirus down to less than half the rate in Britain: wash hands regularly, maintain social distancing of 1.5 metres and stay at home if suffering any symptoms.

The one exception outside of the medical frontline has been on public transport, where masks are mandatory on the basis it is difficult to stay apart on crowded buses, ferries and trains. 'We have seen this approach works,' said Christian Hoebe, a professor of infectious diseases in Maastricht and member of the advisory team. 'Face masks should not be seen as a magic bullet that halts the spread.

'The evidence for them is contradictory. In general, we think you must be careful with face masks because they can give a false sense of security. People think they're immune from disease or stop social distancing. That is very negative.'

Hoebe, head of infectious disease control in Zuid-Limburg, the region hit hardest when the pandemic struck Holland, pointed to a Norwegian study showing 200,000 people must wear surgical masks for one week to stop a single Covid-19 case.

Yet few people have medical masks – in Britain they are rightly preserved for the NHS – while wearers routinely misuse or contaminate their coverings by fitting them incorrectly, failing to change them and touching their faces.

'I was in Belgium recently and saw many people putting them beneath their noses, upside down or under chins', says Hoebe. 'Others stuffed them in their pockets. The effectiveness also depends on the right fabric and the mask being worn very close to the nose.'

Studies by one membrane specialist at Eindhoven University found that while the coronavirus particles are caught by an electrostatic layer in medical masks, they can penetrate bigger pores found in cotton and even vacuum cleaner bags.

The World Health Organisation has also been sceptical, warning that 'widespread use of masks by healthy people in the community setting is not yet supported by high-quality or direct scientific evidence'.

Although changing its advice in June to back the encouragement of mask wearing in some settings, the WHO lists 11 'potential harms' that range from discomfort through to self-contamination and lower compliance with more critical preventative measures.

As in some other European countries, Holland has seen an alarming recent rise in reported infections, which have almost doubled to 1,329 cases over the past two weeks, combined with marginally higher rates of hospitalisation and fatality.

Yet the cabinet's advisory team says this was driven by clusters of people infecting each other at family gatherings and parties, where they would not have worn masks regardless of any changes to rules about public spaces.

Another outbreak came from a bar in Hillegom, near Amsterdam, where the owners told customers they could sit close together, shake hands and hug since the virus was dormant. 'We know what we are doing,' they wrote on Facebook. They were quickly proved wrong, however, after 39 cases were traced to the bar. It has since been closed and the social media post removed.

Holland, a country of 17 million people, has seen 6,147 pandemic deaths after adopting what it called 'intelligent lockdown', which imposed significantly fewer restrictions than Britain and relied more on trusting citizens to behave sensibly.

Although two recent polls claim a majority backing use of face masks for indoor public spaces, I found people on Amsterdam's busy shopping streets supported their government's stand and seemed very aware of the simple rules.

'I like it when people can decide for themselves,' said Jesus Garcia, wielding the clippers in Barbershop Jordaan filled with mask-free staff and customers. 'You would have to really educate people how to use them properly for safety.'

He said he had worn masks during a trip to Spain. 'I did not feel it was really helping since people were wearing them all wrong, putting them in their pockets, placing them under their noses. It defeats the purpose.' One customer having a trim agreed. 'I find face masks absolutely awful. They're claustrophobic and don't work,' said Mark Casey, corporate finance partner at a major accountancy firm.

Coriem Warmenhoven, serving in a flower shop, said she was glad they did not have to wear masks. 'I'm afraid it will become necessary,' she said. 'We must deal with the virus but it is best to be intelligent and give people responsibility.'

She is right to be nervous. The mayors of Amsterdam and Rotterdam, the nation's two biggest cities, have been pressing for more power to impose mask-wearing in crowded areas, which was granted last week. Amsterdam mayor Femke Halsema, alarmed by throngs of tourists and young people making parts of her city too crowded, is insisting on compulsory masks for anyone aged over 13 in the Red Light District and two popular shopping streets.

Warmenhoven told me she was going to holiday in Holland after discussing with her husband where to go. 'He said he didn't want to go anywhere abroad that you have to wear masks,' she said. This bears out the hunch of the Netherlands Board of Tourism and Conventions, which has commissioned research to find out if freedom from face masks gives their country an edge in the struggle to entice dwindling numbers of tourists.

Ben Coates, the author of Why The Dutch Are Different, who lives in central Holland, said the speed with which normal life had returned in the country was remarkable.

'When you walk around, you are hard-pressed to see much difference now,' he said. He added that while Dutch citizens tended to trust their governments, they also had strong libertarian instincts. 'People don't like being told what to do, so they will cycle without helmets and sleep with whom they want.'

The one family I found wandering along the canals clad in face masks turned out to be holidaying Italians from near Milan. 'We have been wearing them all the time for five months, so they don't feel uncomfortable any more,' said Michaele Muller. He added that they had been astonished when they arrived in Holland. 'We drove through Switzerland, where everyone has a mask, then in Germany, where it is also mandatory. Then we crossed the border and suddenly no one was wearing them.'

Later, I came across a British accent belonging to a scientist who had just moved from Milton Keynes to a new job in the city. 'It feels very different from the UK,' said Jenny White. 'It feels much more normal here. You can almost forget about the disease.'



2020's Swedish Surprise: Pandemic Fascism Isn't The Answer

2020 has been a year of firsts: the world faced its first (modern) pandemic, killing hundreds of thousands and shuttering vast swathes of the global economy. Along the way, the political world was turned upside down: for the first time in living memory, leftists found themselves castigating, rather than idolizing, socialist Sweden.

The reason? The Swedes, hard-headed contrarians that they are, had the temerity to buck the global fad for strict lockdowns and obsessive masking. They reasoned that such measures would be unsustainable, economically and socially, so instead of shutting businesses and schools, and harassing or fining anyone caught in public without a mask, they advised people to practice sensible social distancing and to avoid unnecessary outings and exposure.

At first, the mainstream media throughout the Western world gleefully reported the high death rate that Sweden's mild model of pandemic control produced, especially among the elderly and nursing home residents. Sweden's “experiment” with liberty (never a concept beloved of left-wingers) had failed, or so it seemed.

Now, though, Sweden's light touch with respect to coronavirus countermeasures is looking sounder and sounder. Sweden's numbers of new infections are low and trending lower. Daily deaths are approaching the vanishing point. There is speculation that, because the disease was allowed to spread more freely among those least vulnerable, Swedes may already benefit from a degree of herd immunity.

Sweden's successes don't end there, however. The toll of the pandemic, while it is often measured in raw numbers of "COVID deaths," stretches far beyond mortality. Among the worst aspects of the crisis has been the economic carnage it has visited on the worst affected countries. In the U.S., second-quarter GDP is down by almost 33 percent! Unemployment peaked at almost 15 percent. These are numbers generally associated with a depression, although economists expect that the downturn, sharp as it is, will be brief.

Sweden, meanwhile, was the only country in Europe in the first quarter of 2020 to see its GDP rise. Sweden's overall economic contraction in 2020 is expected to be modest, compared to the EU as a whole and to badly-hit countries like the U.K., Italy, and Spain. Swedish companies are also outperforming expectations, while Swedish unemployment is lower than ours: most recently, it stands at 9.2 percent.

Lest we forget, economic pain (and the limitation thereof) also correlates to many other factors that govern a country's degree of suffering during the pandemic. Poor economic performance can and usually does foster a rise in suicides, violent crime, drug use, alcohol abuse, domestic disputes, child abuse, as well as anxiety and depression. Moreover, long and rigid lockdowns, combined with scaremongering in the news media, can even produce more sickness and death, because many people in need of urgent medical care choose to defer it, assuming that it is too dangerous to leave their homes. We can safely assume that all of these problems are less pronounced in Sweden, given the tempered nature of its pandemic response, and the shallowness of its virus-related recession.

There are many ways to measure a country's performance in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, but surely the simplest is this: has a given nation managed to minimize the “pain” (and death) afflicting its citizens while maximizing the “gain” they seek in terms of employment, economic activity, and the preservation of their freedoms and quality of life?

Sweden, it would appear, has struck this balance remarkably well. After a rocky start, especially in nursing homes, Swedish authorities have managed to wrestle the virus into submission, such that it is now almost unheard of for Swedes to die of COVID-19. Simultaneously, Swedes are going to work, going to school, visiting restaurants and businesses, and enjoying normal human interactions without the constant need to wear facemasks.

That sounds, to a mere layman, like a story of success, not failure. And, if the “socialist Swedes” have found a pandemic strategy that works, we have to ask: why are their “progressive” allies around the world afraid to admit it?



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated), A Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here  (Personal).  My annual picture page is hereHome page supplement


Sunday, August 02, 2020

The Democrats' Jihad Against Hydroxychloroquine

The Democrats' holy jihad against any medical professional who suggests the safe, controlled application of Hydroxychloroquine could provide therapeutic benefit to certain patients who are experiencing symptoms of the coronavirus has reached a new level of insanity.

In recent days, the big tech, social media behemoths inserted their own medical opinion into the national conversation over the use of this long-approved prescription drug for COVID patients. They censored and removed a video with multiple medical professionals, including a professor at Yale's schools of medicine and epidemiology, providing a second opinion to the overwhelming media narrative that this drug is somehow dangerous despite the fact that malaria and lupus patients have safely used the drug for decades.

Democrats have lined up alongside their pals in the media to demonize the drug and any medical professional who dares to suggest it might... might prove beneficial. They've seen this drug as a political weapon to injure Donald Trump and anyone who supports him and they seem comfortable with the possibility that people could suffer and maybe even die if they are not able to take advantage of this therapy if their doctor happens to be one of the many who believe it could help.

So, what would the Democrats recommend to individuals suffering from the Chinese Wuhan pandemic crippling our economy and isolating our children, condemning them to mediocre remote classrooms with no healthy social interactions with their peers?

Apparently, they think y'all should just get high.

Friday, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi was asked about the various provisions set forth in her House "stimulus" bill that relate to cannabis policies and cannabis banking laws that appear to have nothing to do with the pandemic-related economic disaster the bill is supposed to address.

The speaker explained to the intrepid reporter that the cannabis laws are directly related to COVID. "I don't agree with you that cannabis is not related to this," Pelosi explained. "This is a therapy that has proven successful."

There you go.

A cursory search of various medical websites, the CDC, and even the corrupt WHO, provides no results on the medical efficacy of marijuana for patients suffering from COVID-19. In fact, one would assume that inhaling smoke into one's lungs while suffering from the devastating respiratory condition would be, at the very least, counterproductive. But Pelosi has spoken. Let them smoke pot.

Let's just be clear on where the Democrats are on the politics of COVID-19 pharmaceutical therapies (not that pharmaceutical therapies for a devastating virus should be politicized at all, but this is the world the Democrats and the media have created so let's play along).

If you are a medical professional, a doctor, an epidemiologist, or a professor of medicine at a prestigious university and you suggest some therapeutic benefit from a drug that President Trump has suggested might deserve some attention, you must be silenced and you must be condemned because Orange Man Bad.

Instead, you should just grab your bong, head down to your recently-legalized pot dispensary in a Democrat-controlled city, and get high, my friend.

These people should not be allowed to be in a position of power.



Sweden tells staff to work from home for the rest of the year to make life safer for those going into the office a day after revealing it is seeing a 'very positive' drop in new covid cases

Sweden has today told staff to work from home for the rest of the year to manage crowding on public transport after revealing it is seeing a 'very positive' drop in new covid cases yesterday.

The recommendation, which is directed at those 'who have the possibility to work from home,' will remain in place until the New Year and is designed to make things easier for those who need to physically go to work.

It comes after the country's top epidemiologist announced yesterday that Sweden was witnessing a 'very positive' downward trend, with the lockdown free country recording 318 new cases today and serious cases in need of intensive care falling.

But the country has had 80,100 total cases of coronavirus, and one of the highest per capita death tolls in the world - well above Denmark, Norway and Finland which have each seen fewer than 1,000 deaths.

Public Health Agency noted that 'if our contacts go up again there is a considerable risk of a new spread during the autumn'. 

Sweden has been an outlier in its coronavirus response. It has kept schools for under-16s open and has not closed cafes, bars, restaurants and most businesses. Masks have been recommended only for healthcare personnel.

Its approach has been based on an attempt to gain herd immunity, but the World Health Organization has warned against pinning hopes on an immune response after contracting the virus.   

Nevertheless, Sweden now has a similar infection rate to the UK with a handful of people are now being admitted to intensive care per week, down from as many as 45 per day at the height of the crisis.

Deaths have also fallen, with 56 fatalities announced in the last week compared to 101 in the previous seven days.

Swedish officials have promised to launch an investigation into the country's coronavirus response.

The commission has a broad mandate to look at how the virus arrived in Sweden, how it spread, the government's response, and the effect on equality.

The commission will report on elderly care at the end of November, although its final conclusions are not due until 2022, ahead



1619 Project Founder Admits It's 'Not a History,' But a Fight to 'Control the National Narrative'

On Monday, Nikole Hannah-Jones, founder of The New York Times‘ “1619 Project,” admitted that her project is not a history and that the battle over it is about “memory” — a fight to “control the national narrative.” Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) has moved to defund schools that teach the project.

“The fight over the 1619 Project is not about history. It is about memory,” Hannah-Jones tweeted. “I’ve always said that the 1619 Project is not a history. It is a work of journalism that explicitly seeks to challenge the national narrative and, therefore, the national memory. The project has always been as much about the present as it is the past.”

She claimed the 1619 Project “never pretended to be a history,” but said it involves “using history and reporting to make an argument.”

“The fight here is about who gets to control the national narrative, and therefore, the nation’s shared memory of itself. One group has monopolized this for too long in order to create this myth of exceptionalism,” Hannah-Jones added. “If their version is true, what do they have to fear of 1619?”

The 1619 Project aims to redefine America’s past, claiming the country’s true founding occurred in 1619, with the arrival of the first black slaves to Jamestown, rather than in 1776 with the Declaration of Independence. Focusing on race, the project aims to deconstruct various aspects of American society as racist and oppressive.

Yet early on, the project met with criticism from real historians. Hannah-Jones had claimed that “one of the primary reasons” the colonists revolted against Britain in 1776 was to preserve the institution of slavery. Slavery was not one of the motivating factors of the revolution. In fact, the revolution disrupted slavery. The Times eventually had to post an embarrassing correction.

Not to worry, because the 1619 Project isn’t history, Hannah-Jones says. But she also encourages supplemental history curricula based on the project. She also insists that the project is true, even if it isn’t history but rather journalism and narrative.

The 1619 Project isn’t true

Yet the project is not an accurate reflection of American history. For one thing, there were black slaves, and black freedmen, in America for a century before 1619. Whoops!

The Smithsonian Magazine disputed the 1619 Project because the Spanish brought slaves to present-day South Carolina in 1526.

“In 1526, enslaved Africans were part of a Spanish expedition to establish an outpost on the North American coast in present-day South Carolina. Those Africans launched a rebellion in November of that year and effectively destroyed the Spanish settlers’ ability to sustain the settlement, which they abandoned a year later. Nearly 100 years before Jamestown, African actors enabled American colonies to survive, and they were equally able to destroy European colonial ventures,” the magazine reported.

Ignoring these and other pre-1619 slaves “effectively erases the memory of many more African peoples than it memorializes,” the Smithsonian Magazine article argued. Therefore, the New York Times project “silences the memory of the more than 500,000 African men, women, and children who had already crossed the Atlantic against their will, aided and abetted Europeans in their endeavors, provided expertise and guidance in a range of enterprises, suffered, died, and – most importantly – endured.”

Of course, the 1619 Project is also false in a much deeper sense. Its narrative delegitimizes the very real benefits of American freedom and prosperity by claiming that racist oppression is the central truth behind the country’s ideals, while in truth the country was founded in pursuit of freedom and equality but the Founders allowed slavery to persist, laying the groundwork to defeat it eventually.

The pernicious narrative of the 1619 Project also carries devastating effects. At its heart, the project aims to demonize America’s founding and heritage.

The 1619 Project uses Marxist critical theory to demonize America and inspire an unguided and destructive revolution. Portland activist Lilith Sinclair expressed a similar idea when she said, “There’s still a lot of work to undo the harm of colonized thought that has been pushed onto Black and indigenous communities.” As examples of “colonized thought,” she mentioned Christianity and the “gender binary.” She said she organizes for “the abolition of … the “United States as we know it.”

Marxist critical theory encourages people to deconstruct various aspects of society — such as capitalism, science the nuclear family, the Judeo-Christian tradition, even expectations of politeness (as the Smithsonian briefly taught) — as examples of white oppression. This inspires an aimless and destructive revolution.

When vandals toppled a statue of George Washington in Portland, they spray-painted “1619” on the statue. When Claremont’s Charles Kesler wrote in The New York Post “Call them the 1619 riots,” Hannah-Jones, responded (in a since-deleted tweet) that “it would be an honor” to claim responsibility for the destructive riots and the defamation of American Founding Fathers like George Washington.

In a November 9, 1995 op-ed, the 1619 Project founder condemned Christopher Columbus as “no different” from Adolf Hitler and demonized the “white race” as the true “savages” and “bloodsuckers.” She went on to describe “white America’s dream” as “colored America’s nightmare.” Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) expressed a similar sentiment when she called for the “dismantling” of America’s “economy and political system,” in order to root out supposed racist oppression.

Yet the “1619 riots” have arguably oppressed black people far more than the U.S. supposedly does. The riots have destroyed black lives, black livelihoods, and black monuments. At least 22 Americans have died in the riots, most of them black.

This narrative undermines the positive aspects of America and encourages hatred toward the very country that provides its citizens with an unprecedented degree of freedom and prosperity. It encourages violent riots in the name of racial justice, even though those riots make life concretely worse for black Americans.

The 1619 Project may bring forward the stories of black Americans who have been overlooked in the past, and that would be admirable. But Americans must reject its pernicious aim to twist the national narrative against the Founders, capitalism, and more.




Bill Clinton visited Jeffrey Epstein's private island, unsealed court documents suggest (Fox News)

ACLU sues Portland police to block them videotaping demonstrators (The Daily Wire)

"Peaceful protests": Twenty-four people have died since violence erupted following George Floyd's death (The Daily Caller)

NBA players protest the national anthem as league returns to action (Reuters)

Trader Joe's announces it will not pander to a petition calling product names "racist" (UK Daily Mail)

"Big Four" tech titans Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google add $250 billion to their combined market value (UK Daily Mail)

Grand jury indicts Tennessee Democrat state senator on theft charges (AP)

Chinese and Russian hackers are sanctioned by Europe for the first time (MIT Technology Review)

Policy: COVID eviction moratoriums are unnecessary, unfair, and economically harmful (The Daily Signal)


For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated), A Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here  (Personal).  My annual picture page is hereHome page supplement


Saturday, August 01, 2020

A revived blog

I ceased posting to my Food and Health Skeptic blog in 2014, after 8 years of punching holes in all sorts of claims about things that do you good or harm you.  I was usually able to show that almost all the claims were "not proven", to use the old Scottish verdict.

The holes that I pointed to in the evidence offered were however very repetitious -- so much so that I felt that just reading my past posts would armour people against accepting the latest folly.

It is clear however that the follies continue so I thought I might take a small step back and post again -- not daily this time but weekly.  I will write something to appear each Saturday.

I hope past fans of the blog will return and maybe I will get some new readers too.

John Ray

Friday, July 31, 2020

Sweden’s Actual COVID-19 Results Compared to What Modelers Predicted in April

At a press conference last week, Anders Tegnell said a massive decline in new COVID-19 cases shows Sweden’s “lighter touch” strategy is doing what it was designed to do.

“It really is yet another sign that the Swedish strategy is working,” Tegnell, Sweden’s top epidemiologist, said. “It is possible to slow contagion fast with the measures we are taking in Sweden.”

Unlike most nations in the world, Sweden avoided a hard lockdown. The nation of 10 million people instead opted for a strategy that sought to encourage social distancing through public information, cooperation, and individual responsibility. Restaurants, bars, public pools, libraries, and most schools remained open with certain capacity limits.

Sweden’s decision to forego lockdowns brought a barrage of scrutiny and criticism. Its approach was described as a “cautionary tale” by The New York Times.

But as I’ve pointed out, the criticism stemmed less from the results of Sweden’s experiment than the nature of the experiment. There are ample examples of nations (and US states) that have suffered far more from COVID-19 than Sweden even though these countries (and states) initiated hard lockdowns requiring citizens to shelter at home.

Perhaps the best way to measure the success of Sweden’s policies is to compare the outcome models predicted to the actual results.

On May 10, Dagens Nyheter—Sweden’s biggest daily newspaper—analyzed a pair of models inspired by the Imperial College of London study, which predicted as many as 40 million people could die if the coronavirus was left unchecked. The models predicted that Sweden's ICUs (intensive care units) would expire before May and nearly 100,000 people would die from COVID-19 by July.

“Our model predicts that, using median infection-fatality-rate estimates, at least 96,000 deaths would occur by 1 July without mitigation,” the authors wrote.

It’s a frightening prediction. And perhaps that was the point.

As Johan Norberg pointed out in The Spectator back in May, these models were used by critics of Sweden’s strategy to show its healthcare system would collapse if it did not “make a U-turn into lockdown” similar to the United Kingdom.

Well, we’re nearly through July. So how do the predictions stack up against the results?

Total COVID-19 deaths in Sweden stand at 5,700, nearly 90,000 less than modelers predicted. Hospitals were never overrun. Daily deaths in Sweden have slowed to a crawl. The health agency reports no new ICU admissions.

As the chart above shows, modelers weren’t just wrong. They weren’t even remotely close.

How did the experts get it so wrong? There are many reasons, of course, including the fact that COVID-19 isn’t as deadly as modelers originally feared. The simplest answer, however, is that modelers overlooked a basic reality: humans spontaneously alter their behavior during pandemics.

This should not be a surprise. Humans are intelligent, instinctive, and self-preserving creatures who will seek to avoid high-risk behavior. The natural law of spontaneous order shows that humans naturally adapt their behavior when circumstances warrant it. (In his 1988 book The Fatal Conceit, the economist F.A. Hayek described this process as “the least appreciated facet of human evolution.”)

Scientific evidence, as it relates to the current pandemic, bears out this economic idea. Research shows that in the US, workplaces and consumers changed their travel patterns before governments began issuing stay-at-home orders. In other words, without being ordered or even instructed, tens of millions of Americans were already adapting their behavior to the unknown threat of COVID-19.

A similar experience took place in Sweden, where foot traffic and train traffic were sharply reduced without draconian orders and penalties.

“We actually made a comparison to our Nordic neighbors, and the Swedish travel patterns have changed just as much as our Nordic neighbors, in spite of them having much more legal lockdowns than we have,” Tegnell said in a May interview.

The Swedish experience is important. As Phil Magness has noted at AIER, Sweden’s success suggests the presumed risks and benefits of lockdowns were largely a fiction.

“[T]he assumed benefits of a more severe lockdown policy appear to have been greatly exaggerated,” Magness wrote. “The assumed risks of the milder course adopted by the Swedish government appear to have been similarly inflated. And the overall death toll of the baseline ‘do nothing’ scenario appears to have little grounding in reality.”

One might argue that caution was warranted given the unknown threat of COVID-19. This argument is less persuasive when the costs of the lockdowns—a looming global recession, hundreds of millions of jobs lost, millions of businesses shuttered, historic social unrest, surging extreme poverty, and widespread health deterioration—are taken into account.

Fortunately, it’s not too late to learn from our mistakes. First, however, we must acknowledge them.



Yesteryear's Propagandist Is Today's 'Journalist'

The Left has long glorified and lionized journalists as the nation’s cultural truth-tellers. Starting with the muckrakers of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, however, came the rise of the activist journalist. This type of person sees the role of journalist as not merely that of accurately informing the public of news, but also that of cultural reformer. To be fair, the journalists of yesteryear believed in the power of the truth to bring about reform and a more justice society, but they had nothing on today’s activists.

Somewhere along the way, these activist journalists lost faith in the power of truth to evoke the kind of progressive reforms to society they believed in. Therefore, they increasingly aim to direct and limit what information is reported.

Fast forward to today’s news media and it becomes patently clear that this activist journalism has produced anti-journalism.

As National Review’s Jim Geraghty observes, “Major institutions of American journalism have decided that certain viewpoints must not be expressed within their pages, and certain factions and narratives must not be questioned, challenged, or opposed. Certain arguments must not be heard, certain supporting evidence must not be examined; certain ideas are simply too dangerous or malevolent to be brought to a wider audience. We are instructed that the very expression of them in any form makes certain staffers ‘feel unsafe’ and thus must be treated as akin to a physical assault.”

Geraghty continues, “This is not the pursuit of knowledge; this is the avoidance of knowledge. This is not curiosity; this is an ironclad certainty that everything that is needed to be known about any given subject is already known. This is not informing the audience about what is going on in the world; this is making sure they don’t hear what is going on in the world, because it might run counter to a preferred narrative.”

So committed are today’s mainstream journalists to seeing society transformed into their idealized leftist utopia that they will ignore or downplay any news that fails to support their biased political and cultural views.

David Burge joked a few years back, “Journalism is about covering important stories. With a pillow, until they stop moving.” Today’s “journalism” also means weaving false narratives that advance the leftist agenda. Again, that’s not journalism; it’s anti-journalism.



Here's one fearless woman's story of government oppression and media malpractice

Every once in a while, we stumble onto a story that sticks with us — a story whose component parts seem so outrageous as to be fictional but whose description of raw Big Brotherly power being used against a single law-abiding citizen makes us fear for our republic.

You’ve likely never heard of Catherine Engelbrecht, and that’s understandable; she hasn’t been in the news in years. But as then-National Review’s Jillian Kay Melchior wrote back in 2013, “Catherine Engelbrecht’s tale has all the markings of a classic conspiracy theory: She says she thinks that because of her peaceful political activity, she and her family were targeted for scrutiny by hostile federal agencies. Yet as news emerges that the Internal Revenue Service wielded its power to obstruct conservative groups, Catherine’s story becomes credible — and chilling. It also raises questions about whether other federal agencies have used their executive powers to target those deemed political enemies.”

Melchior then chronicles this law-abiding Patriot’s ordeal from her founding of an election-integrity organization called True the Vote to her years-long harassment through a series of menacing and punitive visits from various agencies of the Obama administration.

Engelbrecht’s story is one of toughness, though — and ultimately of vindication. As the True the Vote website notes, the organization won a legal victory just last year against the IRS for its unconstitutional discrimination and unethical behavior. “This decision marks the end of a nearly decade long battle that first began in 2010, when federal government agencies including the IRS, DOJ, FBI, ATF, OSHA weaponized against True the Vote and its founder, Catherine Engelbrecht. Under Obama Administration leadership, the agencies leveled a barrage of attacks, including twenty-three audits, investigations, and inquiries, against the group in an attempt to stop their work in election integrity.”

From the beginning until her legal victory, Engelbrecht never wavered. “I testified before Congress and swore that I would never retreat or surrender,” she said. “Today I have fulfilled that oath. Thank you to all the citizens across the country who stood steadfastly beside us. We could not have done it without your support.”

Aside from serving as a cautionary tale of raw government power run amok, Engelbrecht’s story puts the lie to the laughable myth of the “scandal-free” Obama-Biden years. Not that she needed any help. As Kevin Williamson and Victor Davis Hanson (among others) have pointed out, that claim didn’t age well. We now know, beyond any doubt, that those eight years reeked of scandal.

Just imagine the media uproar, for example, if Donald Trump had snubbed and stonewalled the nation’s independent inspectors general the way his predecessor did.

“There is nothing left of the Obama creed of the ‘most scandal-free’ administrant in memory,” wrote VDH. “Before the collusion/obstruction hoax, the Horowitz report, the failed Mueller investigation, and the release of classified information, the public knew well of Fast and Furious, the data surveillance of the AP reporters, the GSA and VA messes, the weaponization of the IRS, the Benghazi mythologies, the Bowe Bergdahl swap, and the echo-chamber silence about the hidden details of the Iran deal. Each time Susan Rice was wheeled out to swear the truth, the public assumed it was a lie. The more things change, the more they stay the same.”

Perhaps worse than all that documented malfeasance, though, was the media’s abdication of its traditional watchdog role. By continually and willfully looking the other way, by failing to hold the Obama-Biden administration to account, the vaunted Fourth Estate failed miserably to protect the Catherine Engelbrechts of the world.

And that’s the sorriest scandal of all.




Six big takeaways from the attorney general's Capitol Hill testimony (The Daily Signal)

Hidin' Biden hits Trump's "law and order" message: He's trying to "scare the devil" out of people (The Hill)

Declassified Senate report details "bitter argument" between CIA and FBI over bogus Steele dossier (The Daily Caller)

NFL to transform fields, player helmets into Black Lives Matter billboards (The Federalist)

Black leaders in Portland criticize violent protesters (The Washington Free Beacon)

Twenty-eight states issue warnings about residents receiving unsolicited seed packets from China (NBC News)

Scientists get closer to blood test for Alzheimer's disease (AP)

EU levels sanctions over Hong Kong security law, inching toward tough U.S. stance on China (The Wall Street Journal)

New Zealand suspends extradition treaty with Hong Kong (Reuters)

Vatican computers hacked in Chinese espionage effort (Washington Examiner)

Chicago deputy police chief dead in apparent suicide soon after promotion (Fox News)

Policy: Why Marxist organizations like BLM seek to dismantle the nuclear family (Mises Institute)

Policy: The Federal Reserve is both too politicized and too powerful (Foundation for Economic Education)


For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated), A Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here  (Personal).  My annual picture page is hereHome page supplement


Thursday, July 30, 2020

Coronavirus: Hospital breakthrough removes the fear factor

A story of globally significant medical ingenuity has emerged from the rubble of Australia’s ­second coronavirus wave, as doctors and nurses use a local invention to better treat patients and protect staff.

Western Health and Melbourne University this year helped create a world-leading ventilation hood that is placed over victims, with the twin benefit of protecting staff and improving treatments.

Associate professor Forbes McGain has received the results of an initial study into the effectiveness of the hood, which is designed to contain the droplet spread of the coronavirus.

Dr McGain, who works for Western Health, said the study feedback from the first 20 patients had been “overwhelmingly positive”.

Many thousands of healthcare workers globally have been infected with COVID-19 while trying to save the lives of the sick and dying.

The ventilation hood separates medical staff from the patient without losing line of sight and contains the droplets.

For Dr McGain, an intensive care specialist at Melbourne’s Sunshine Hospital, the first obvious benefit is in the wellbeing of nurses and doctors. “The nurses in particular feel safe,” he said.

“That’s the most important thing for the hood. The nurses aren’t as worried nursing and caring for quite unwell patients.”

The hood, which effectively creates a bubble around the ­patient, also enables staff to provide less invasive therapies and improved interaction with those being treated.

Some 17 of the hoods are being used in Victoria as the medical world starts to struggle with the increasing load of the virus.

There is rising interest in the device from other hospitals and it has presented as a significant opportunity for local manufacturing and potential global exports.

The ventilation sucks air away from the patient but restricts the flow of droplets, with the hood acting as a barrier. It also enables other intensive care machines to function without compromising the safety of the staff.

The project was made possible with the support of Melbourne University’s School of Engineering, led by professor Jason Monty.

“We only have 17 of these hoods at the moment but more can be made,” Dr McGain said. “There is an opportunity for expansion with local manufacturing.”

There are 32 coronavirus inpatients at Sunshine Hospital with four in intensive care.

Western Health research nurse manager Sam Bates said the presence of the ventilation hoods was embraced by staff: “They are just so excited to see it.”



Short-Term Insurance Is Not The Problem. It’s The Solution

Republicans are in court trying to abolish Obamacare. Democrats in Congress are trying to abolish something called short-term, limited-benefit insurance.

Both types of insurance are meeting important family needs. With a huge number of people potentially losing employer coverage, an alternative in the individual market has never been more important. Yet neither party has a replacement in mind to meet those same needs in better ways.

Let’s take the Democrats first. Their target, the short-term plan, is less well-known and the market for it is growing while the Obamacare market is shrinking.

Congressional Democrats say short-term plans “are a bad deal for consumers.”

Yet last year alone, the market for them grew by 27 percent – providing 600,000 new customers a better deal than they could find anywhere else. And that occurred at the same time that the non-subsidized market in the Obamacare exchanges was in free fall.

So what is short-term insurance and why do so many people find it attractive?

The basic product has been around for many years. The reason for the phrase “short-term” is that it traditionally lasted for only 12 months and served as a bridge for people transitioning from a family policy to school, or from school to work, or from job to job.

There are three important things to know about it.

First, it is largely unregulated. Obamacare-mandated benefits, for example, don’t apply; and most state regulations don’t apply either. That means these plans don’t have to cover maternity care or substance abuse. Many of them don’t even cover prescription drugs. The Obamacare prohibition on discrimination based on health status also doesn’t apply. The plans can and do ask health questions. They exclude people with expensive chronic conditions.

Precisely because these plans avoid cost-increasing regulations and they only need to cover risks healthy people care about, they often sell for one-third the price of Obamacare insurance. They also typically have lower deductibles and broader provider networks.

This is ideal insurance for a healthy person with no chronic illness who wants transition coverage in case an auto accident or some other misfortune creates medical expenses during a transition period. It is not good insurance for a chronically ill patient who needs expensive drug therapy.

The second thing to know is that the Obama administration viewed these plans as a threat. Summarized in a single sentence, Obamacare is an elaborate system designed to force healthy people with no medical needs to pay high premiums in order to subsidize the coverage of relatively sick people with lots of needs.

That whole system falls apart, however, if the healthy can escape to some other market and buy insurance tailored just for them. So, President Obama used his regulatory authority (in a move never approved by Congress) to restrict short- term coverage to three months, with no renewal after that.

One of the most important things Donald Trump did was to reverse that restriction. Under a Trump administration ruling, short-term insurance can now last up to 12 months and it can be renewed for up to three years.

That has been a godsend for thousands of people who don’t get Obamacare subsidies. In the individual market, they have seen their premiums double, their deductibles triple and their access to the best doctors and hospitals denied. Trump has given them a better option.

That said, the typical plan in the short-term market today looks pretty much like short-term insurance has always looked. But that may change because of the third thing you need to know.

The Trump executive order went out of its way to sanction a separate type of insurance, what I call “change-of-health-status insurance,” to bridge the gap between the three-year periods. Say you are in a short-term plan and you get cancer. At the end of a three-year period you are likely to be rejected if you try to buy insurance for another three-year period. And if not rejected, you might be charged a much higher premium because of your health condition.

Health-status insurance protects you against these bad outcomes. It pays any extra cost that arises because of a change in your medical condition, leaving you free to pay the same premium a healthy person would pay.

By stringing together these two types of insurance, we now have the possibility of a market that healthy people can buy into and that is guaranteed to be renewable (regardless of health condition) indefinitely into the future. Going forward, expect to see insurance companies enter this market, which looks very much like traditional Blue Cross insurance before there was Obamacare – with reasonable premiums and a full menu of benefits. It will be the closest thing we have ever had to genuine free market health insurance.

Surprisingly, the very thing that will make this transition easy is the existence of Obamacare. Democrats complain that today’s short-term plans don’t cover services people might need.  “What if you get sick and need expensive drugs?” they might ask. The answer is: you drop your short-term plan and enroll in an Obamacare plan.

The Obamacare exchanges are serving as an ongoing safety net. They are similar in some respects to the risk pools that states maintained before there was Obamacare. They are available to those who buy their own insurance and can’t get their medical needs met in some other way.

And this is why the GOP might want to rethink its goal of abolishing Obamacare completely.

Obamacare has one design feature Republicans should like. It provides tax subsidies that enable people to buy private insurance. That was the core idea behind John McCain’s health plan in the 2008 election. It also is a core idea behind other Republican reform plans.

The reason why Obamacare looks like a Rube Goldberg contraption is that it is a market designed by Democrats who don’t believe in markets. It is funded by tax credits designed by Democrats who don’t believe in tax credits. It tries to force young, healthy families to buy the wrong kind of insurance and overcharges them in the process. It over-subsidizes lower-income families who are healthy and under-subsidizes middle-income families with real medical needs.

Here is the way out:

1.   Let the short-term market continue developing into a largely unregulated market for real health insurance.

2.   Provide the same tax credit to everyone, regardless of which market they buy insurance from.

3.   Let the Obamacare market serve as quasi-risk pool insurance and keep the premiums reasonable with subsidies paid for by taxpayers generally.

4.   To keep Obamacare costs under control, encourage ”focused factories” –health plans that focus on specific serious health conditions such as cancer and diabetes – and thus encourage competition in chronic care.

By following these suggestions, members of both political parties could be far more productive than continuing their efforts to abolish insurance they don’t like.



The Liberal Media Thinks You're Too Dumb to See the Riots For What They Are

Are we living in a quasi-Oceanic state? Are we living in the United States or a place more resembling Airstrip One? Okay, maybe not that far, but the liberal media’s refusal to utilize the English language to describe what is happening on the Left Coast is troubling. Is it shocking? Not really, but disconcerting all the same.

While most of the country has moved on from rioting in the wake of George Floyd’s death at the hands of Minneapolis Police on May 25, there are small pockets where these clowns have simply not gone home. Most of it is occurring in the usual places, California, Portland, and Seattle. These leftists are still there because it’s not about George Floyd, which unleashed a new wave of Black Lives Matter activism and political correctness policing. Oh, and it also set forth a renewed push to…eliminate all law enforcement, but that’s a tale for another time.

It’s no longer about police brutality or racial justice. That’s over. That was never the message with the folks still rioting. It’s about the Marxist revolution. The Floyd protests were merely a means to mobilize—and now they’re trying to torch federal buildings. Black Lives Matter has, in some areas, been overtaken by insufferable white liberals, which I was told is problematic in nature. This assault on order is what prompted President Trump to initiate Operation Legend, the deployment of federal troops in these lawless Democrat-run regions with the intention of restoring law and order and protecting federal property.

Of course, this set off a frenzy with the liberal media morons, who thought this was either a prelude to martial law or a test run to Trump stealing the upcoming presidential election. Trump derangement has hit a new stage in evolution. We have an entire industry that is helmed by idiots. And they’ve created a new language, a new code for reporting on these riots that defies logic. Take this tweet from ABC News, for example.

“Protesters in California set fire to a courthouse, damaged a police station and assaulted officers after a peaceful demonstration intensified.”

Say what? They were aggregating an Associated Press piece, but dear Lord—what in the fresh hell is this? In this new era of journalism, when people set fires, it means the “peaceful” protest only got…more serene? No. It’s a riot, which means law enforcement should deploy all means available to crush these vermin. It means break out the rubber bullets, the tear gas canisters, the flashbangs, the water hoses, anything to put this mob down. Now, some locations, like Seattle, tried to ban the use of crowd control munitions, which was blessedly blocked by a judge.

These aren’t soccer moms. These aren’t good people. These are unhinged, violent left-wing revolutionaries. And for some reason, setting fires to buildings and attacking police is okay because “orange man…bad.” The media refuses to put pressure on left-wingers for their illegal behavior, plus their unshakeable list for revolution is a toxic combination. It didn’t have to be this way. If Democrats could govern, it wouldn’t be this way. These governors and local leaders might as well be sixth graders. Trump is literally dealing with children, and it only gets worse concerning the media.

Is their bias so great that they’re now incapable of calling what things are now? Maybe we saw glimpses of this during the Obama era, the inability from those on the Left to call something for what it was because it might make them look bad. When Putin rolled into Ukraine and annexed Crimea, it wasn’t called an “invasion.” It was called an “uncontested arrival.”

Now, it’s “protestors” attack police, shine lasers into federal agents’ eyes to blind them, set fires to federal buildings, and commit mass looting as “peaceful” demonstration intensified. And folks, it’s not just members of the media, as even some liberals appear to have succumbed to abject cognitive dissonance.

 Forget COVID—is this the new normal? What’s next, some long-form piece about how killing is not murder?



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated), A Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here  (Personal).  My annual picture page is hereHome page supplement


Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Why the Black Lives Matter protest is dangerous

By Australian immunologist John Dwyer.  His comments are about Australia but they are equally applicable to the USA

The vast majority of people infected with COVID-19 met the virus while in close physical proximity to an infectious individual for an extended period of time. Prolonged exposure not only results in a much greater chance of being infected; it makes it likely one will be infected by a lot of virus – "high viral load" – which will be a major factor in determining the clinical consequences.

This reality is not being given sufficient emphasis in our mitigation strategies.

As we attempt to tame this epidemic it is crucial that we not only practise social distancing but also focus on minimising occasions when we are close to fellow citizens for a prolonged period of time, a strategy we might call "social brevity".

Remember our local experience of one infected individual attending a wedding reception with 35 others, all of whom went home infected.

No matter how laudable the cause of yesterday’s planned Black Lives Matter protest in Sydney, it was ridiculous to even contemplate having a gathering which 1500 people had indicated on Facebook they would attend – even if wearing masks – to give voice (and potentially virus) to their shared concerns for a prolonged period.

While the organisers had pledged to divide into legal groups of no more than 20, how feasible might that have been? As it turned out, only 40 turned out for the rally, which was abandoned when its leader and others were arrested. But it shouldn't have come to that.

What irony that a protest about the need to save lives could be responsible for the loss of lives. It’s disturbing that after all these months of struggle to contain COVID infections, the organisers were defying a court order not to proceed.

As we have seen in Melbourne, a single carrier can set off a tidal wave of infections. Prolonged exposure to COVID carriers results in clusters of infection as we have seen in meat-packing plants, nursing homes, cramped housing estates and, increasingly notable, hospital settings.

More than 700 Australian health professionals caring for COVID patients have been infected. In the Italian crisis more than 100 previously healthy and often young doctors died as they were constantly exposed to huge numbers of infected individuals over many weeks.

Now, you might get infected making you way around a crowed supermarket. You might pick up COVID from a solid surface or meet it in air exhaled by a fellow shopper, but the risk is low. To avoid the greater risks, we have to extend our thinking to social brevity.

Religious services, choirs, funerals, parties, hotels where drinking while standing in groups is allowed, public transport and the normal daily routines in nursing homes all create dangerous opportunities for infection.

The data also highlight how important are opportunities to work at home. We need to pay special attention to the working conditions associated with "essential services". We have had clusters of infection on construction sites and in factories. Industry experts should be working with government health authorities to devise the best possible protective gear and arrangements for workers in such industries.

The recent outbreak of infections in Victoria clearly illustrates how quickly we can see a reassuringly low rate of new infections explode to produce so many new infections that our best efforts at contact tracing are unable to arrest the exponential increase in cases.

In NSW we are understandably nervous that our currently manageable numbers of new infections could suddenly accelerate.

While vaccine news features much optimism, the data is very preliminary and we are learning from numerous studies that natural infection may not be associated with any long-term immunity.

Too often we hear that COVID infections are only a problem for "oldies". Yet globally they are causing more and more serious clinical consequences for young people (very noticeable in Victoria at the moment), often resulting in chronic illness.

It was of some comfort that the Black Lives Matter protesters had pledged to wear masks, but that would have given them no guarantee. Numerous studies have been performed trying to quantify the value of mask wearing by the general population as a strategy for defeating COVID; the results are mixed. The controversies are well presented on the NSW Department of Health’s COVID website.

The wearing of masks by all citizens, as is currently required of Victorians, needs to be put into an evidence-based perspective. There is no doubt about the effectiveness of masks in reducing the likelihood that an infected individual will infect another.

Of course, individuals with respiratory symptoms should wear a mask as they seek testing and then self-isolate until the results are in. No-one with symptoms should be at large in the community and thinking that a mask will guarantee they are harmless.

The World Health Organisation and America’s Centres for Disease Control and Prevention recommend the importance of mask wearing by all in situations such as Victoria’s. Certainly the same is true for the likes of Florida and Texas where 25 per cent of those tested are infected, but mask wearing will not provide the panacea that will terminate the COVID epidemic.

Stay-at-home orders will slow the infection rate but our need to "live" with this virus and restore our economy requires us to adapt our normal social interaction to the long-term epidemiological reality we face. That adaptation must address the need for "social brevity" for the foreseeable future.



HHS Acts to Preserve Religious Freedom at Hospitals During Pandemic

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services took two important steps Tuesday to protect religious freedom during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The agency’s Office for Civil Rights announced that patients at hospitals within the University of Maryland Medical System may receive visits by clergy amid the pandemic.

And, the office said, a medical student at Staten Island University Hospital in New York City may follow his religious belief by not shaving his beard despite having to wear a mask. 

“We can protect people’s physical safety and their spiritual and emotional well-being at the same time,” Roger Severino, director of the HHS Office for Civil Rights, said on a conference call with reporters Tuesday afternoon. “Those two things are not in tension and when we protect both, we actually protect the mental health as well as the physical health.”

“Religious liberty doesn’t cease to be a fundamental human right during a pandemic,” Ryan T. Anderson, a research fellow specializing in religious liberty at The Heritage Foundation, said in an email to The Daily Signal. “As these HHS resolutions demonstrate, we can combat COVID-19 and respect religious liberty.”

In the case prompting the first decision, Sidney and Susanna Marcus were airlifted to Prince George’s Hospital Center in Cheverly, Maryland, after a motorcycle accident May 25.

Her husband’s injuries were more severe than hers, Susanna Marcus explained on Tuesday’s conference call, placing him in the hospital’s intensive care unit for an extended period.

Susanna Marcus requested that a priest visit her husband because she was “very fearful for his condition,” she said.

She and her husband are Catholic, she said, and “believe that in the sacraments our souls are united to God’s.”

“I needed to know that he had access to that,” she said. “And when I was told that no priests were allowed, I was able to contact HHS and was connected to the best people … and finally Sidney was able to have access to a priest and to the sacrament.” 

The Office for Civil Rights and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services worked with the University of Maryland Medical System to ensure that patients have access to clergy and chaplains during the pandemic, Severino said.

The University of Maryland Medical System updated visitation guidelines for all 13 of its hospitals to allow patients, including those in COVID-19 care units, to receive visits from pastors, priests, or other clergy—provided they wear the appropriate personal protective equipment.

In an email Tuesday night to The Daily Signal, Michael Schwartzberg, media relations director for the University of Maryland Medical System, said:

After we became aware of an issue regarding clergy visitation for a patient who was potentially nearing the end of [his] life, we engaged in extensive discussion with key stakeholders including legal counsel on how to best accommodate situations that require exceptions to our visitation policy while not compromising the safety of others.

We have since amended our policy, with all individuals visiting a COVID-19 positive patient provided a form acknowledging the risk, and will allow clergy visits with adherence to safety protocols.

HHS would like to see other states and hospital systems follow University of Maryland Medical System’s lead, Severino said.

“It’s a tragedy when people are deprived of the ability to have access to their faith practices,” he told reporters.

The Office for Civil Rights also acted to protect the faith practices of the New York City medical student in June, leading to the second announcement Tuesday.

The unnamed student was set to do rotations at Staten Island University Hospital during the summer. Hospital supervisors asked him to shave his beard before getting fitted for an N95 protective mask, but the student explained that he could not do so because of his religious beliefs. He was told he could not return to rotations until he shaved.

The Office for Civil Rights worked with the student and the hospital to find an alternative that “provides greater protection than an N95 mask and would allow for a facial beard,” HHS said in a press release.

Patients and health care providers “have [an] interest in religious freedoms, and both should be accommodated and protected to the extent possible,” Severino said.



Black Privilege in the Media

Several Leftmedia outlets have announced they'll capitalize the "B" in black.

This just in: The Leftmedia is biased. Clearly that’s not news, but what is news is the recent decision by the Associated Press, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and other outlets to begin capitalizing the “B” in black when describing people. The “w” in white will remain lowercased, however, to make sure white folks remain properly chastised. “White privilege” indeed.

The National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) says “white” should be capitalized as well, and Fox News, CNN, and others say they’ll do so. The white leftists at the AP, Times, and Journal, however, are too busy putting white people in their place to listen to fair-minded black people.

The AP made the change to “B” on Juneteenth but only yesterday announced that “W” would not follow. In reporting on its own decision, the AP noted, “The AP said white people in general have much less shared history and culture, and don’t have the experience of being discriminated against because of skin color.” So the AP is going to discriminate against white people in news coverage to teach them a lesson.

Indeed, John Daniszewski, the AP’s vice president for standards, was almost explicit in saying so: “We agree that white people’s skin color plays into systemic inequalities and injustices, and we want our journalism to robustly explore these problems. But capitalizing the term white, as is done by white supremacists, risks subtly conveying legitimacy to such beliefs.”

Evidently, Daniszewski and his fellow race-baiting cadres believe blacks are incapable of perpetrating inequality, injustice, or supremacy. To assign such sinful human behavior only to whites is, of course, racist. So is making skin pigmentation the defining characteristic these media outlets will highlight — as if all blacks have to think and behave in some uniform fashion, while whites are evidently free to think for themselves. Why can’t Americans be united in our national culture instead of being divided by skin color?

This is all part of the Marxist cultural revolution of identity politics that has swept the country in recent weeks. It includes rebranding food, renaming sports teams, and the redefinition of language itself.

On a final note, let me give you a taste of what this idiocy would look like in my own home. I have three white children and two black children, adopted from Africa. They are African Americans, if you really want to get technical, but that term is even falling out of favor as “Black” sweeps it away. Imagine if I followed these media outlets and not only showed my black kids favoritism but insisted that my white kids — especially that deplorable male one — were privileged, discriminating, and downright evil for being … white.

I’d be a horrible father, a deranged person, and a racist. Yet that sort of racism is exactly what passes for “enlightened” media coverage today. One might almost conclude that the Leftmedia truly is the enemy of the people.




U.S. Supreme Court denies Nevada church's appeal of discriminatory coronavirus restrictions (NBC News)

Hidin' Biden declines Chris Wallace interview (Fox News)

Democratic National Committee platform mentions "whites" 15 times, all of which are critical (Washington Examiner)

Big wins for Bernie Sanders wing in Democrat platform (Washington Examiner)

Economic adviser Larry Kudlow says next coronavirus stimulus bill will include more checks, extend moratorium on evictions (Fox News)

Parking tickets covered by Eighth Amendment's ban on excessive fines, federal court rules (Forbes)

Leftist George Soros pours record $50 million into 2020 election (The Washington Free Beacon)

Seattle police chief sends simple message to businesses during riots: You're on your own (The Daily Caller)

If you thought "defund the police" was insane, you'll love "abolish prisons" in Seattle (PJ Media)

Rifle ammunition, Molotov cocktails found by Portland police on 60th consecutive night of "protests" (Fox News)

Civil rights activists fire back at Portland protesters: It's no longer about black lives (The Daily Wire)

Chicago violence: Two dead, 47 injured in another bloody weekend (Fox News)

Ecstatic teen opens his first-ever paycheck, learns what taxes are, is absolutely crushed (Disrn)


For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated), A Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here  (Personal).  My annual picture page is hereHome page supplement


Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Where the current craziness began

The arrogance of youth

It has long struck me how the Frankfurt School, a collection of Leftist émigrés from Nazi Germany, could have been so successful in dominating the curriculum of the American university and wielding so massive an influence over following generations of students. Its major figures, Max Horkheimer, Theodor Adorno, and Herbert Marcuse, were the main authors of the political revolution of the 1960s which gradually filtered into the culture to produce the revisionist “narrative” and physical violence we observe all around us today.

The most publically significant spokesperson was Herbert Marcuse, whose One Dimensional Man, Eros and Civilization and his influential, totalitarian-inspired essay “Repressive Tolerance” planted the seeds of political and epistemic subversion in the fertile soil of American academia and, ultimately, in the marl of the cultural and institutional life. Marcuse argued in the essay that we must be “intolerant toward the protagonists of the repressive status quo.” By “status quo,” he meant classical liberal thought with its emphasis on tradition, individual autonomy, civic responsibility, and limited government, which he thought were responsible for deep-rooted social injustice. The narrative he developed was irresistible to his legion of acolytes.

The Frankfurters were the red brigades of the university Left, striving to fill their students’ minds with the doctrine of human and social perfectibility according to the egalitarian principles of their Marxist forbears, in particular the theories and ruminations of the Italian revolutionary thinker Antonio Gramsci and Hungarian Marxist Georg Lukács. The Woke generation now rioting in the streets of Portland, Seattle, and other cities are their unwitting progeny, the shock troops of Antifa and BLM who never read Marcuse, let alone Horkheimer, Adorno, Gramsci or Lukács—and surely would be incapable of doing so with any comprehension. They have succumbed to a political virus of which they are unaware, fallen prey to a toxic narrative developed by the luminaries of the intellectual Left. This is what I would dub trickle-down intellectonomics, how complex thought (however specious) gradually leaks away into howls, bellows, and yawps.

There is no doubt that the crucial figures of the “Western Marxist” movement were brilliant men and erudite scholars, eloquent to a fault. They were right about some things, in particular about the rise of anti-Semitism as a function of a world sinking into barbarism. But how could they have been so wrong about America, working to transform the American Dream into the American Nightmare? Could they not see how their analysis of America’s ills was based not on a thorough and intimate knowledge of American life in all its variety and complexity but on the hoary concept of “commodity fetishism” and a theoretical explication of a mystical force Adorno called “negative dialectics,” an understanding of which could show how American society might be perfected? 

Adorno believed that Western and American society could transcend its fundamental contradictions between labor and capital, between constraint and freedom, the compulsion to dominate both men and nature and the struggle for “unitary existence,” “in view of the concrete possibility of utopia,” as he wrote in Negative Dialectics. (Italics mine.) A “right condition,” he continued, could be freed from the inherent contradiction of “dialectic antagonisms.” Marcuse was much blunter. He was not interested in transcendence but repression—albeit in the name of that convenient Marxist evasion, a harmonious future. It must be said, however, that both men commanded a facility with language, combining complexity, expressiveness, and philosophic range, that few contemporary writers are capable of today. We should resist the temptation to dismiss their language as merely unintelligible or pretentious, yet their linguistic convolution is part of the problem.

Thomas Hobbes in Leviathan put the dilemma in a nutshell. “As men abound in copiousness of language,” he wrote, “so they become more wise, or more mad, than ordinary. Nor is it possible without letters for any man to become either excellently wise or . . . excellently foolish.”

The Frankfurters were excellently foolish, and the majority of our politicians, editors, public intellectuals, and corporate tycoons have imbibed their folly. With respect to the latter, as Rupert Darwall shows in Green Tyranny, “Capitalist wealth has been used to fund the Frankfurt School” to advance its own interests, primarily in the Green environmental industry; capitalists are subsidizing the very people dedicated to bringing them down. But this is true of the entire elitist cartel pushing the wages of intellectual abuse in our universities, media and political class. They have bought into the opiate narrative of the Left.

Social worker Judith Acosta puts the issue neatly when discussing the economic question with socialists young and old, who believe in “sharing the planet,” in doing away with free-market enterprise, in the free distribution of goods and services, and state ownership of the means of production: “They don’t concede that there is even such a thing as human nature, replete with base impulses. To them, humanity is perfectible (with a little government help and a lot of regulation).” She continues: “Human nature is bifurcated and fallen…there will be atrocities and power grabs no matter what economic system we have. The question more appropriately becomes…which economic and social system best deals with the reality of human nature, its innate indolence and selfishness, its ambition and creativity…So far, based on worldwide experience, a gently regulated capitalism seems to produce the most good for the broadest segment of humanity.”

But the Left will not concede to reality in attempting to advance its doctrine with mental sedatives like “social harmony,” “classless society,” “planetary village,” “unitary existence,” and so on. Its apostles and epigones have been thoroughly indoctrinated. And so their folly seems poised to prevail. We need to acknowledge that once in power the Left will enact policy predicated not on promoting the freedom and prosperity of the nation or recognizing the empirics of economic life but on a sweeping “narrative” of human perfectibility ushered in by an all-seeing aristocracy of political authoritarians. The Social Democratic “narrative” is an ideological tissue of unsustainable ideas, no matter how imposingly it may be formulated. Thanks to the Frankfurters and their infecting a generation of impressionable students with the illusion of human perfectibility and the dogmatic assurance of a self-regarding master class, excellent foolishness has become the air we breathe and the order of the day.



Biden Vows to Stamp Out 'Islamicphobia'

That means more Islamic proselytizing is coming to American public schools.

The presidential campaign of 2020 has so far unfolded in more of a crisis atmosphere than any campaign in decades. Portland, Oregon and other cities are still engulfed by Antifa violence (as the Democrats side with the violent rioters), coronavirus hysteria is still hamstringing the nation’s economic life and prosperity, social media giants are waging all-out war against the freedom of speech, and America’s history and heritage is under direct and unapologetic assault from Marxists vowing a revolution in America. In the midst of all this, on July 20, presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden demonstrated anew the disturbing priorities of his increasingly anti-American party.

Instead of addressing the sharp rise in crime and lawlessness, the demonization of American history and culture, the Left’s assault on the Second Amendment and other basic rights, or any of the other burning issues of the day, Biden chose to address the “Million Muslim Votes Summit,” hosted by Emgage Action, which claims to be is the largest Muslim PAC in the United States. In the course of his rambling remarks, Biden declared: “One of the things I think is important, I wish we taught more in our schools about the Islamic faith.”[1]

In the midst of what could very well turn out to be a second American civil war, or even the end of the United States as a free republic, Joe Biden is preoccupied with getting our schools to proselytize for Islam more intensively than they already do. For make no mistake: that is what Biden means when he says he wishes that our schools taught more about Islam. Schools already teach about Islam as a major world religion. That teaching has already been widely criticized as whitewashing the crimes committed in the name of Islam and in accord with its teachings, and Biden wants even more of that: he thinks the cure for what he repeatedly called “Islamicphobia” (there’s that famous “stutter” again, but you can’t really fault him for getting a word wrong that’s artificial and made-up in the first place) is for American schoolchildren to be relentlessly indoctrinated with the idea that Islam is wonderful, and never mind about all those dead bodies of people killed to screams of “Allahu akbar.”

Biden was in effect adopting a familiar trope of post-9/11 Leftists and Islamic supremacists: that opposition to jihad violence and Sharia oppression of women is “hate,” a hatred that could be eradicated if we redneck yahoo Americans were just made to learn a bit about Islam. And so the public schools, which Democrats have worked for years to cleanse of every trace of Christianity, must be made an arena for teaching Islam. Imagine the uproar if Biden had said: “One of the things I think is important, I wish we taught more in our schools about the Christian faith.” He would have been denounced everywhere and probably would already have been replaced as the likely Democratic Party presidential candidate.

But his far-Left supporters will only applaud his recommendation that the public schools be increasingly devoted to teaching Islam. This is certain, as Biden went on to claim that America was a dark, dangerous place for Muslims, and it was all Donald Trump’s fault. The Islamic education was apparently needed because “under this administration, we’ve seen an unconscionable, an unconscionable rise in Islamicphobia and incidents including kids being bullied in schools and hate crimes in our communities.”[2] President Trump, Biden insisted, has “named people with a history of open Islamicphobia — open, straightforward, who have no business serving in high positions in our government — to key leadership roles in our Department of Defense and the US Agency of International Development.”[3]

“Islamophobia,” which is likely what Biden meant to say when he said “Islamicphobia,” is defined in a New York Post article about his address to Emgage as “prejudice against Muslims.”[4] Prejudice against any group is never justified. All too often, however, the term is used to refer to honest and accurate analysis of the ways in which jihadis use the texts and teachings of Islam to justify violence and make recruits among peaceful Muslims.

Biden is vowing to end all that, and effectively criminalize criticism of Islam, including all opposition to jihad terror, something that the Left has been working toward for a long time.

Even worse, the Washington Free Beacon reports that Emgage Action is “a George Soros-backed Muslim group, which cohosts a conference that in recent years drew speakers who called homosexuality a ‘disease’ and defended terrorist groups….Emgage has collaborated with a Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated group on events that in recent years attracted speakers who openly opposed LGBT rights and supported terror groups. Last year, Emgage became an official cohost of Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) conferences. ISNA was previously revealed to be part of the Muslim Brotherhood network—though it claims it is no longer associated with the group.”[5]

Biden didn’t hesitate to throw this crowd plenty of red meat, promising: “If I have the honor of being president, I will end the Muslim ban on day one, day one.”[6] There is no “Muslim ban,” but the idea that such a ban does actually exist is not just a product of the candidate’s rapidly deteriorating mental capacity. Islamic supremacists and their Leftist allies insist on calling the Trump administration’s travel bans on nationals from 13 countries a “Muslim ban,” even though five of those countries, Burma, Eritrea, Tanzania, North Korea and Venezuela, are not Muslim countries, and there are 49 other Muslim countries upon which there is no ban at all.

The ban exists because these countries cannot or will not provide accurate information about prospective immigrants. The list of countries was devised during the Obama administration, while Biden was Vice President. But that didn’t stop Biden from casting it in racial terms, declaring: “Muslim communities were the first to feel Donald Trump’s assault on black and brown communities in this country with his vile Muslim ban.”[7] It’s a peculiar “assault on black and brown communities” that leaves untouched scores of countries inhabited by “black and brown communities,” but the Left is working on the gut level of rage and hatred, not rational consideration.

Digging even deeper, Biden declared: “A hadith from the Prophet Muhammad instructs, ‘Whomever among you sees a wrong, let him change it with his hand. If he is not able, then with his tongue. If he is not able, then with his heart.’”[8]

The hadith Biden is quoting is this one: “On the authority of Abu Sa`eed al-Khudree (may Allah be pleased with him) who said: I heard the Messenger of Allah say, ‘Whosoever of you sees an evil, let him change it with his hand; and if he is not able to do so, then with his tongue; and if he is not able to do so, then with his heart — and that is the weakest of faith.'” (Nawawi 34)

What might Muhammad, or whoever put this saying into his mouth, have meant by changing a wrong with one’s hand? One of the hazards of analysis of statements of jihad terrorists is that in an Islamic context, words seldom, if ever, mean what they are taken for granted as meaning by Westerners. This fools mainstream counterterror analysts on a daily basis: when Muslim leaders speak about wanting to establish justice, they think they’re ready to set up free societies, when actually they mean they want to impose Sharia.

So it is with Biden’s favored saying. Fighting and killing infidels is repeatedly commanded in the Qur’an (cf. 2:191. 4:89, 9:5, 9:289, 47:4, etc.), not because Islam is committed to mayhem for its own sake, but because the society of the unbelievers must be swept aside in favor of the rule of Islamic law. The twentieth-century Pakistani political leader and Islamic scholar Syed Abul A’la Maududi taught that Muslims must fight until non-Muslims were not be entrusted with the responsibilities of governing a state – any state. He declared that non-Muslims have “absolutely no right to seize the reins of power in any part of God’s earth nor to direct the collective affairs of human beings according to their own misconceived doctrines. For if they are given such an opportunity, corruption and mischief will ensue. In such a situation the believers would be under an obligation to do their utmost to dislodge them from political power and to make them live in subservience to the Islamic way of life.”[9]

This is the highest activity in which a Muslim can engage: another hadith has a Muslim asking Muhammad: “Instruct me as to such a deed as equals Jihad (in reward).” Muhammad replied, “I do not find such a deed.” (Bukhari 4.52.44)

Biden’s hadith, therefore, was not some Islamic Hallmark card; it was a command to wage war against unbelievers.

Note also Biden’s reference to “the Prophet Muhammad.” It’s standard journalistic practice today to assume that everyone is a Muslim and believes Muhammad is a prophet, so Biden is just following along with the crowd and pandering to his constituency, but it’s still a manifestation of Islamic supremacism. Biden’s handlers would never, ever give him a statement that referred to “our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” But Islam is the Left’s preferred religion, and Islamopandering is the order of the day, so Biden refers without hesitation to “the prophet.”



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated), A Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here  (Personal).  My annual picture page is hereHome page supplement